Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The Struggle for a Higher Education

Education is West Africa can be hard. If a family is able to afford to send a child to school, that child may be in a classroom with up to 150 students. If a child has trouble hearing, seeing, a learning disability or just processes information in a different way, the chances of succeeding are low. Repeating classes in the norm.

Many children may have an opportunity to attend primary school, but as they get older and the school and supply fees increase, there is a significant drop out rate. Many children are in school, but are not succeeding and would be better served going to a specialized school to learn construction, sewing, soldering, wood working, hair.

Those children who excel and are able to complete all thirteen grades and the three pass/fail exams are now left with the question, "What now?"

There are Public and Private Universities as well as schools that train students to become Nurses and Teachers, but the number of graduates that are able to attend any such school is staggeringly low. The fees do not seem very high by Western standards, however to your average African family it is an impossibility.

Jeanne is 22 years old. She came to live at the Sheltering Wings orphanage four years ago after her parents died. She was living in another country so, even though she had passed her 10th grade exam, she had to repeat 10th grade and take the exam again. She is a very hard worker and very helpful. She is like a big sister to the children at the orphanage and has worked each summer helping our baby caretakers with our babies and toddlers. She sends the money to her extended family to help put the younger children in school. Last year Jeanne was taking her final exam, the BAC. This is the exam you take to finish and graduate school. Unfortunately Jeanne did not pass and needed to repeat 13th grade. She was devastated and ready to give up, but we encouraged her to give it another try. This year Jeanne passed! It is Jeanne's dream to become a nurse and help people. Jeanne would often accompany the staff nurses to villages and help clean and dress wounds.

Juliette is 25 years old. She was in the Sheltering Wings sponsorship program. When Juliette failed the 10th grade exam two times, we could see that she was a hard worker so we gave her another change to try that class again. Unfortunately Juliette did not pass again. The success rate for this test is 25% for the whole country. Impressed by her spirit, determination and responsibility, we invited Juliette to work as an assistant alongside our nurses in our clinic. For the past three years, Juliette has worked hard and a passion has grown inside of her for nursing. Despite Juliette not passing the test, there is a program that will allow her to work on a nursing degree and finish traditional education at the same time.

The cost for Nursing School is $700 per year and it is a three year program. Consider helping Jeanne or Juliette achieve their dreams and have a brighter future. These girls can help the growing need for medical professionals and help lower the rate of children who die from preventable, easily treatable disease. Right now the number of deaths is 1 in 5, under the age of 5.

How can you help?

Click here to help Jeanne

Click here to help Juliette

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Saturday Morning Fun!

For the next few Saturdays we are invited classes from our school and kids from the neighborhood to participate in a Bible Story and crafts and activities to re-enforce what they are learning.

Today's lesson was the Creation Story. It was interesting having the children identify with God as a creator who made them to be creative. Children here do not often have the opportunity to use their creativity, so they really enjoyed every activity. Britney, Ashley, Jenna and Lazare all made this a very special day for the children.

Learning about Creation and our Creator

Ashley had a special game for the kids

Britney had the kids use their creativity with stamps

Jenna helping kids make wordless story bracelets

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Golden Nuggets of Joy

In a week where we saw children with severe leg deformities, terrible rashes that covered the whole body and neck injuries causing paralysis that happened by falling into a gold mining hole; where we heard about a mother who took the lives of her two children and tried taking her own life because her husband took another wife…it is a small golden nugget of joy that we cling to.

Idrissa is about 17 years old. As a small boy he came to live at the orphanage because he was not cared for well at home. His father is blind and his mother is not mentally well and he was not going to school. As time went on it was evident that Idrissa was battling the wounds of his life. He would run away for periods of time, but he would always return. 

When he was about 13 we found a pastor willing to take Idrissa in and we enrolled him in a special school where he would have a basic traditional education and learn how to construct things out of wood. Even under this care Idrissa ran away two different times. He ended up back at the orphanage where we talked him through what this opportunity could mean for his future and he returned to the school. Unfortunately, the third time Idrissa ran away, he lost this opportunity and he simply disappeared.

In the past two years, Idrissa has dropped in to say hello once and just recently came back again. He told us how sorry he was that he did not take advantage of the help that we offered before and knows what it is like to truly have nothing. For the last year he was finding work some days doing odd jobs and was living on the streets with little to eat and was sick very often. He came to us to ask for any help we could offer. Idrissa came back to us time and time again because we were his safe place. He knew that he was loved and could have a meal and a safe place to sleep.

We came up with a solution for Idrissa. We would help him find an apprenticeship in town with a carpenter since he already had learned some skills in school. He would go to live in his village so that he could help his parents and rebuild that relationship and we would buy him a bike so that he could get back and forth to work. You could see that look of renewed hope in Idrissa’s eyes.

Through a generous donation from Grace Community Church in Canada, we had funds to buy Idrissa’s bike. The day he received it he smiled for a picture, but as he walked away with the bike it became clear. Idrissa, in his 17 years, had never learned to ride a bike! One of our boys spent three days teaching Idrissa, and now he is racing around beaming with pride.

The joy in others in infectious! I thank God for this blessing that he gave us and for his always perfect timing. God knows each of us. He knows our hearts, our needs, our suffering and desires…and he cares! Turn to God in times of trouble and he will be your refuge. Share your joys with God and he will delight in them with you.